Thanks so much for letting me judge this competition. I loved doing it. The entries have been sometimes brilliant, sometimes unnerving, sometimes funny, sometimes downright baffling, but always intriguing. It's been lovely to plunge into each submission and seeing where the author wants to take me.
I want to thanks every person who wrote a story - it's a brave, exposing experience to put pieces of your art and yourself 'out there'. Every one of you should continue doing this.
After a lot of deliberation, I've come up with my winner...it wasn't easy. Using a photograph as a starting point was the only constant in the competition and my number 1 story totally embraces that image.
And the winner is....
One Less Ghost by Angie Fayre!!
Almost don't want to say anything about it for fear of giving details away. But this is genuinely unsettling ghost story enhanced by its everyday language, reminding me of MR James. I can even forgive one shocking bit of exposition when the writer can take you on a journey like this that makes you work to fill in the gaps. The horror isn't on the page, it's in your own mind - and that's always more shocking.
Many congratulations to Angie!!
In 2nd place, A Birthday Treat by Diane Simmons!! One of the few entries that used comedy and I laughed. A good story with some humorous lines. Diane obviously has a gift and a love for this kind of writing. Refreshing.
In 3rd place, Foxfire by Marie Gethins!! An intriguing story of how one object can affect three generations of a family. Details and clues are carefully layered throughout the piece and the ending is a beautiful bit of symbolism. A lovely evocative story by a talented writer.
Enjoy all the stories!!